Benefits of Chaga



Who doesn’t crave a delicious hot beverage during the colder months?  Unfortunately many of the choices at the local coffee shops are high in sugar, additives, and chemicals. Tea can be a great healthy option to keep you warm. One great tea option is chaga. Chaga is actually a mushroom (stay with me…) that grows on birch trees in colder climates. If you are lucky enough to live near a forested area here in Canada, you may be able to harvest some of your own. If not, you can purchase chaga from a local health food store. Below is a picture of one of my favourite trusted brands.

Chaga is what many would call a “Superfood”. It is an incredible antioxidant—in fact it’s ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score, which is a measurement of its antioxidant properties, is off the charts according to studies by the USDA and Tufts University. Some estimations put the antioxidant content of 1 gram of chaga as equivalent to 3 pounds of blueberries. Chaga is also what we call an adaptogen or immunomodulator. Many mushrooms are immune boosters, but chaga actually helps to support and moderate our immune system—boosting or calming when required. This means that it is a good option for those who need to avoid immune boosting foods, such as those suffering from auto-immune conditions. To top it off, Chaga is also an antimicrobial.

With it’s rich, slightly sweet, and nutty flavour, chaga can be used in many different ways. Some of my favourites include using it as a base in a soup or smoothie. The simplest way, however, is to just drink it as is! Many people find it to be a great alternative to coffee.  Below is a recipe for a simple chaga latte. Enjoy!





  • 1/3 cup of dry chaga pieces
  • 1 liter of water
  • 1/4 cup of homemade nut milk
  • Splash of maple syrup


  1. Add chaga bits to water and bring to simmer on the stove top. Continue simmering for at least 30 minutes until it reaches a rich dark colour. The longer you can simmer the better. You may add water as it evaporates. Strain chaga bits from tea and store in an airtight container. These pieces can be reused over and over to make tea until they begin to lose their dark colouring.
  2. In a small saucepan heat almond milk over low heat. Whisk in maple syrup. Continue whisking until nut milk is warm and as frothy as desired. For an even frothier texture blend warmed nut milk on high for a few seconds in a high speed blender.
  3. Transfer 1 cup of strained hot chaga tea into a mug. Pour heated and frothed nut milk over top.
  4. Keep leftover chaga in a glass jar in the fridge and reheat on the stove as desired.

Fresh Blender Juice

Makes approximately 1 litre

Prep time 15-20 minutes


So juices get a bit of a bad rap sometimes. It can seem like everyone is on a detox or  juice cleanse these days, am I right? Well I have some news… juices are not just for cleanses! That’s right. My food philosophy involves supporting our bodies’ natural detoxification processes and channels so I am not a huge advocate of a body-shocking week long juice fast, most of the time. But in my opinion, a good quality and fresh juice has its place in our daily lives.

Juices can be extremely nutrient dense and easy on the digestive system. They are ideal for people who are in a heightened stress response state. Here’s why…

During a period of heightened stress response we have:

  • higher nutrient requirements as our adrenal glands rely on nutrients such as vitamin C, B5, and B12 in particular to produce our stress hormones
  • slowed digestion so our body can focus on the immediate perceived stress
  • less time to sit and eat (which can also be hard on digestion)

SO juices are a great option to get you through until you can sit and eat in a relaxed environment. That said, without the fibre of a whole fruit or vegetable, juices can spike blood sugar. If this is of particular concern, I recommend a handful of nuts or seeds alongside your juice to slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream.

Here is one of my favourite juice recipes. It contains vitamin C-rich citrus, beta carotene, anti-inflammatory turmeric and ginger root, and it tastes great! This version uses a high speed blender but feel free to add all ingredients into a juicer if you have one at home.






  • 2 small-medium sized carrots
  • 1 apple (I used Gala)
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 3 clementines (or 1 regular orange)
  • 1 lemon with peel removed
  • 1 inch long knob of ginger
  • finger long knob of fresh turmeric (see note)
  • 1 1/2 cups of water (you could use more or less, according to your preference)


  1. Wash produce and cut into smaller pieces. Remove peels from lemon and clementines.
  2. Put all ingredients into a high speed blender loading in softer items first and blend on high until smooth.
  3. Strain juice through a nut milk bag or cheese cloth over a large glass bowl. A little patience is required with this as the pulp can be squeezed through the mesh if you use too much pressure. Turmeric will stain your hands and nails so if this is a concern, I would advise wearing gloves.
  4. Pour juice into a glass container and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days. Enzymatic breakdown begins immediately so the sooner you drink it the more benefits you will receive!


*Note: Fresh turmeric root can be difficult to find or expensive. I stock up when it is available and keep it in the freezer for later use. If you can’t find fresh, organic turmeric powder will do in a pinch. The anti-inflammatory effects of this little wonder root are worth the effort of finding it!

Small but Mighty Power Balls

Makes 20

Prep time 15 minutes


Power or protein balls are becoming more and more popular in the foodie community—and for good reason! They are easy to make, filling, can be very nutrient dense, and are a great alternative to expensive store-bought bars that may contain some less than desirable ingredients.

These are a great snack option for first responders who need something fast and nutrient dense.

This recipe packs a nutritional punch. Blackstrap molasses is a great source of non-heme iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Chia seeds provide healthy fat in the form of Omega 3 and are extremely high in calcium. They will also definitely help to keep you feeling full. Dates, honey, and blackstrap molasses provide a healthier alternative to refined sugar and the fat and protein contained in the nut butter, chia, and pumpkin seeds help to prevent a spike in blood sugar and serve to round these little guys out (pun intended).

Because I hate doing dishes, I suggest making a double batch and keeping them in the freezer until ready to eat. Be sure to keep them refrigerated once thawed to keep the pumpkin and chia seeds from going rancid.



  • 10 dates (I used deglet noor)
  • ½ cup of nut butter (I used peanut)
  • 2 tablespoons of honey (watch out for a future post on the benefits of raw and local honey!)
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 ½ cup of oats
  • 1/3 cup of raw
    pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp chia seed


  1. Start by soaking dates in water for a few minutes and remove any pits. Then add dates along with 5 tablespoons of water to a food processor. Mix until a paste starts to form.
  2. Add nut butter, honey, and blackstrap molasses to the mixture and combine in food processor until a very thick and creamy consistency is reached.
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and then add in the nut butter mixture. Mix together all ingredients with a spatula or your hands until well combined. If you find that the mixture is too dry, try adding a little water. If too wet, add more oats.
  4. Form mixture into small balls (about 1 tbsp each) and place on dish or baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  5. Refrigerate power balls for 30 mins to set and then place in glass storage container. Store in the fridge or freezer.






Save your scraps!

It’s officially soup season! Most soup recipes call for a broth or stock base. Rather than spending money on store bought broth filled with excess sodium and preservatives, why not make your own for free? Hold on to vegetable peels and keep them in the freezer until you are ready to make your stock. Bones work well too, of course, and then you could always make the ever popular bone broth.



  1. Save leftover vegetable peels and skins and store in the freezer (list below of which veggies work best)
  2. Dump all of your scraps into a slow cooker
  3. Cover leftover vegetables with water (my average sized slow cooker takes about 12-16 cups of water)
  4. Add in any additional fresh or dried herbs or garlic you have laying around along with a little salt and pepper
  5. Turn on low for 8 hours and let it be
  6. Let the mixture cool enough to handle and strain stock into jars. Leave some room at the top of the jar if you are going to freeze them for later use

That’s it! Super simple, nutritious, saves money, and reduces waste. If making bone broth ensure that you add apple cider vinegar or a similar acid so that all of those good nutrients can be leached from the bones (joint bones are best for bone broth, if possible). If making beef bone broth leave the slow cooker going for at least 24 hours—chicken bone broth takes less time. Adding vegetables into bone broth towards the end of cooking helps to add some flavour.

Best scraps for broth:

  • Garlic and peels
  • Onion skins and ends (remember that if you use red onion it will darken your broth)
  • Leek ends
  • Carrot peels
  • Kale stems (be careful not to overdo it—too much cruciferous veg can leave you with a weird taste)
  • Mushrooms

The Importance of Nutrition


We are all busy. All the time. Busy has become a badge of honour in this day and age. Is this a good thing? Is this destructive long-term? These are questions better answered in another post. But the fact remains that most of us have a lot on our plates. This is just a reality of the world that we live in. We want (demand) the most from our lives, and why not? We work hard and play hard. This is especially true of those working in high stress and high performance careers—such as our front-line nurses, paramedics, firefighters and police officers. Throw in shift work and life gets even more complicated!

In order to keep up with our busy lives it is important to take good care of ourselves. And to me, that means starting with the foundation of good health—food. Good nutrition is essential for a multitude of reasons:

  1. We need a strong base from which to start

Feeling well and balanced serves to provide us with the energy and motivation to get things done.  Starting that 3 foot long to-do list can be daunting at the best of times but when you are exhausted, suffering from a headache,  constantly running to the bathroom, or dealing with other ailments, it can be that much more difficult.  Feeling physically good on a day-to-day basis is important and the right food can help us to achieve this.

  1. We need high quality fuel to keep us going

Running to hockey practice, piano lessons, or dance class after an 8+ hour work day is tough (so I have heard). Ensuring that we have nutrient dense food at the ready means that we can provide our bodies with what they need to run optimally. The right combination of macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) is necessary to provide fuel to our bodies’ energy systems.  I guarantee that a drive through junk food snack will not provide you with the same positive outcome as homemade power balls.

  1. Disease prevention

Living a full life should not come at the expense of our health. Stress is an often unavoidable part of a busy and full life. And as we know, stress is an etiological factor in the development of many (most I would argue) diseases. But here is the good news! We can help to mitigate the effects of a high-stress lifestyle and career through nutrition! Providing our bodies with macro and micro-nutrients best suited to our biochemical individuality serves to support our bodies’ natural systems. Our bodies’ are constantly trying to move towards homeostasis (balance) so if we provide the right tools through our food choices, we can help our bodies’ to do their own thing and keep us healthy.

Good nutrition provides us with a strong foundation. From there we can take on all of the challenges that life presents us with and build the lives that we want and deserve. Of course good sleep, exercise, and strong relationships are also key to our overall well-being but a focus on nutrition is an important part of maintaining health.